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The walk from the parking lot where I leave my car in the morning to the building where I work is what I call the "Gauntlet of Winos". It takes me past a bum-haunted bus stop, a pair of transient hotels, and a convenience store/stash house, and for some reason, the winos have abandoned their normal amusement of shitting on the sidewalk and turned, instead, to provoking me into fistfights.

The other day, I was walking past the transient hotel, and some crazy old coot was wandering around in front of a parked fire truck. As I went past, his rumblings grew louder and more incoherent, and finally, he wheeled on me, put his finger about an inch away from my face, and yelled "...AND I'M GONNA KICK THIS GUY'S ASS, RIGHT HERE!" I stopped for a minute, and gave a beseeching look to one of the firemen, who was loafing against his rig, and who rewarded me with an indifferent shrug. I kept walking and the incident as well as the crazy man was soon behind me.

Yesterday, I was walking past the bus stop, and a different guy, younger but if anything even crazier, was running around like a wild man, kicking pigeons. I don't really care for that sort of thing, even directed at flying rats, so I said, in an indoor voice, "Hey, hey, man. Easy." He started shrieking at me and then ran towards me in his pigeon-kicking posture; I instantly assumed a defensive position and dropped my hands, thinking I was gonna have to clock the guy. At the last minute, he careened away with a lunatic smile; the pigeons took their business elsewhere, and this too was soon behind me.

Now, I happen to think that there is a time and a place for everything, including beating someone's ass right into the gutter. But there is nothing to be gained from whaling on some unfortunate bum who's probably being directed by a powerful combination of alcohol and insanity. I would feel no sense of accomplishment in laying out some hapless, homeless crazy. The better angels of my nature bid me leave them be, no matter how kooky the provocation.

But here's the thing: the better angels of my nature haven't been sleeping much lately, and half the time, they're armed. Pray the rosary for me to stay off the nightly news.


Oct. 30th, 2007 05:30 pm (UTC)
i tell people that one of the reasons i hate san francisco is because the homeless cats were agressive in ways we don't have in new york. one cat asked me for money, i said no, and then he was in my grill? on haight? i remember that moment well, because i balled up my fist and told him to fuck off, and had my follow up shove at the ready. and i never knew i had that kind of anger in me. and you know me-- i'm a buck fifty dripping wet-- but i won't have some mf roll up on me like he's going box me down. the wiser action is to back off, and usually i do. because the ornery night that i don't, i might realize the fight in me doesn't match my size. or that my anger's writing checks my body can't or shouldn't cash. i'm saying, you don't really want to take shots from a possibly looney cat on the streets.

second comment-- your gauntlet sounds like there should be a greyhound bus station nearby. because that's the scene at every bus station, but it gets iller farther west. at least that's my recollection.
Oct. 30th, 2007 05:36 pm (UTC)
Re: 2 comments
There is, in fact, a bus station (though not a Greyhound -- it's a Mexican/American international line) right across the street.
Oct. 30th, 2007 05:54 pm (UTC)
You don't need better angels, all you need is Jonah Goldberg. Just ask yourself, "What would Jonah Goldberg brag about doing?", and then you will remember that it's wrong to beat up bums.
Oct. 30th, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)

I liked that. That was pretty. Thank you for that.


flavored with age
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator
Ludic Log


Leonard Pierce is a freelance writer wandering around Texas with no sleep or sense of direction. If you give him money he will write something for you. If you are nice to him he may come to your house and get drunk.

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